Transport committee publishes report into £18.6bn project’s progress
The London Assembly has warned that it still has concerns that risk on the £18.6bn Crossrail project may not be being handled correctly.
The assembly’s transport committee has published a new report on the project’s progress, Crossrail: Light at the end of the tunnel?, looking at what needs to be done to complete the railway.
Governance of Crossrail transferred to TfL last year, with the Crossrail board disbanded in September.
But the 51-page report said: “At this stage, it is not yet clear whether the new governance structure will promote a more proactive approach to risk management, particularly the way in which senior leaders engage with the project representative.”
The executive team led by chief executive Mark Wild has been retained to oversee project completion.
The report, which made seven recommendations (see below), investigated five key areas of concern, with committee chair Alison Moore saying there had been a particular focus on governance and leadership.
In her foreword, she said: “This report proposes keeping a tight grasp on the effectiveness of leadership structures and maintaining financial stability.
“There is an opportunity to build on the management and governance structures to benefit the project with clearer timeline planning, learn lessons from the project and have the space to evaluate risks like new waves of the pandemic.”
Concerns about leadership, transparency and risk management on Crossrail have been in the spotlight since August 2018 when it was announced the job would miss the project’s first delay announcement in August 2018.
Since then, revised completion dates have been missed and costs have gone up despite a new management team and structure being brought in.
London Assembly transport committee recommendations
Recommendation 1: The Crossrail chief executive should share Crossrail’s high-level project timeline, including any underpinning assumptions affecting the timeline, in the monthly Crossrail updates to the transport committee.
Recommendation 2: The TfL Commissioner should review progress against filling project-critical vacancies at the weekly countdown meeting, with a clear action plan to fill the roles. In parallel, TfL should update its workforce strategy within the next three months to identify and manage the long-term resourcing requirements on the project.
Recommendation 3: TfL should prioritise its support for staff in areas of the project where there are the most significant resource pressures. TfL must monitor the impacts of resourcing shortages on staff wellbeing and ensure mitigating actions are put in place to prevent burnout in the final phase of the project.
Recommendation 4: TfL should undertake a comprehensive lessons-learned exercise, incorporating the Committee’s 2019 ‘Derailed: Getting Crossrail back on track’ report and Crossrail’s sponsor review, to inform its new governance structure. The exercise should take place no later than March 2021 so that the structure can be flexed whilst it is still bedding down.
Recommendation 5: TfL should commission an independent review of its new governance structure within six months and include the findings in the Crossrail chief executive’s updates to the transport committee. The review will enable TfL to adapt its structure as the project continues to evolve and transition to a fully operational line.
Recommendation 6: TfL should revisit its approach to the involvement of the project representative (P-Rep) in the final phase of the project to ensure that its independent scrutiny role is materially stronger under the new structure. Specifically, TfL should share with the committee more confidential information contained in the P-Rep’s advice that is otherwise redacted from the public.
Recommendation 7: TfL should enhance the role of Network Rail in the new governance structure so that its voice is heard in key decision-making forums. Specifically, TfL should invite Network Rail to the Elizabeth Line delivery group.